Hellooo Again from Story Mavericks !
Just a quick little "Hope all is going well so far in Twenty 11." If you're from the Northeast, love snowfall & winter, I think you'll have a bigger smile than those people not considered Fans of Winter. Skiing is fun but I prefer the golf course or boating.
How Did Pedigree (Dog Food) Transform Itself From A Just Another Company Selling Dog Food, To A Distinctive Company Where Dogs Rule ?
Ok time to share some thinking today on an area that is becoming more critical in business today, STORY. The concept of story in today's world of content overload has multiple applications. There's the content you develop in your communications and share with people via traditional or new media marketing channels. There's the stories that your customers tell about their interactions with you and your business. There's the story you tell others by decisions your business makes with regard to how you treat your customers and employees. I believe however that all of the above is in part guided by another type of story. The Back-Story- how you became what you are today.
" Originality matters. But history matters too. The very act of rediscovering and reinterpreting the past creates the clarity and confidence necessary to craft a distinctive game plan for the future."
William Taylor-Co-founder, Fast Company Magazine, Author Practically Radical
I came across the quote in "Practically Radical" a book on the changing landscape of business management from William Taylor. So far a great read, for someone who believes, that "Average is no longer an option for those that want to be successful." One of the many real world stories of business transformations Taylor shares, is that of Pedigree Dog-food. The Pedigree story is and example of one of the many companies that get the fact that their heritage & tradition can be an important component, in providing a competitive advantage versus competition, and one that can't be copied.
The Pedigree Micro Story
Back in 2004 Pedigree began a process to strategize how to answer the challenge most businesses face today.- Commoditization of their brands. (Price-Price-Price) Early on, as part of that process, they revisited their roots, their history. The team immersed themselves in a journey through time, to explore and try to uncover new ideas or something from the past that would be special today in moving forward to create unique value by rejuvenating the brand. I think it's important to note that the process involved not only exploring their own history but also everything and everybody in their industry, that related to dogs and their food.
By revisiting their back story, the Pedigree team were reminded that The Mars family, who founded the company, had been passionate pet-lovers for generations and that Pedigree had always been a brand endorsed by breeders for years. What Pedigree discovered was that they had moved away from the original founders mission which centered on being in the business because they loved dogs. That was their soul. They had become another me to company who tried to make food that cost less.
Rediscovering their soul created a gateway to the future success of the Pedigree Brand. It became their compass to guide future business strategy. More importantly, it allowed them to transform their culture and invigorate the brand with a greater sense of purpose. It made them different and distinct in their industry. Imagine the difference in a company culture where it's employees come to work thinking that they work for a company who loves dogs, versus coming to work for a dog dog food company. Imagine again, the neat talk-able stories that were created by everyone walking the "canine talk" at Pedigree, through their dog-centric innovations and implementation.
Here's a few things they did: employee badges and cards included photos of employee dogs, Employees were encouraged to bring dogs to work or use the companies on-site dog care center, The company offered health insurance for pets, In some cases dogs made sales calls on supermarket buyers, The company crafted a creative customer (dog) experience statement that they called "Dogma", a manifesto on why the company exist and how it should behave. The list of innovations is extensive and ultimately resulted in a company that was very different and one that had a distinct energized personality.
The transformation of The Pedigree culture, no small task, gained momentum and energy by exploring their back-story. Understanding their history helped create a clear path and distinctive game plan for their future.
The key message I wanted to share with this post is the critical need for all businesses to look at themselves with a pair of "Fresh Eyes". Let's face it to remain wed to past practices ignores the reality of a changed world. Despite the revolution in marketing, there is still important lessons we must take from the past. Imagining your business from the framework of a story and revisiting the effects of your heritage, your origin, history- back-story, is a great place to start. In that story can be found a script to guide your future communications and the staging of authentic experiences for all stakeholders in your business.
In part two I will share some thinking on the elements to consider in your back-story including some questions to explore with your team, colleagues or friends. Until my next post, give some thought to why and how your company was founded. Take care & always, "Rock Your Customers."